Albums Of The Week

Album of the week: Lorde's Melodrama is glorious artistic pop

Lorde’s voice reaches soaring heights in her new album.
Lorde’s voice reaches soaring heights in her new album. PHOTO: UNIVERSAL MUSIC SINGAPORE

Lorde's sophomore album, Melodrama, is a flawless record of the highs and lows of adulthood

A second album can be a scary thing to take on, especially when you're a pop wunderkind such as Lorde, whose 2013 teenage debut Pure Heroine was both a critical and commercial success.

Melodrama, the new release by the now 20-year-old singer born Ella Yelich-O'Connor, is no sophomore slump.

Mature and artistically miles ahead of the current offerings of her peers, it is a glorious pop record, one that flawlessly captures the soaring highs and crushing lows of nascent adulthood.

Loosely crafted as a concept album, the songs are said to narrate a single night in which extravagant partying concludes with a posteuphoria comedown.

The snazzy, synth-pop brilliance in the multi-dimensional production is a far cry from her debut's minimalism. Still, despite the many tunes to dance to, there is also an overarching sentimentality that is prevalent throughout as she grapples with the end of a long-term relationship.

The Louvre captures perfectly the heady experience of young love, but even then, her self-awareness is on point ("But we're the greatest/They'll hang us in the Louvre/Down the back, but who cares, still the Louvre").

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Liability is Lorde as we've never heard her before, a nuanced, fragile piano ballad with her ruminating on how her success and fame have had an effect on those closest to her.

One also discovers a new range in her voice - if Pure Heroine is mostly her singing in the lower register, Lorde's voice reaches soaring heights here.

This is most noticeable in Writer In The Dark, certainly one of the album's most affecting songs.

"I am my mother's child, I'll love you 'til my breathing stops/I'll love you 'til you call the cops on me," she wails in a high, Kate Bush-like register.

Her multi-layered singing on Sober, each voice in a different register, reflects the intricacies of dealing with past joys and regrets.

Hard Feelings/Loveless takes the listener through the different stages one goes through after a break-up - the yearning for the good times that have passed, the slow, painful journey to self-healing that follows and the spite for an ex that eventually lifts.

The realisation that all the youthful indulgences may not be all they are cracked up to be is astutely conveyed in album closer Perfect Places.

"All the nights spent off our faces/Trying to find these perfect places/What the **** are perfect places anyway?" she questions, reflecting on the transience of hedonistic binges.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on June 21, 2017, with the headline 'Glorious and artistic pop'. Print Edition | Subscribe